MADISON — The western Wisconsin school district that brought us Avatar Annie attacking conservative school board candidates on Facebook is pushing its students and teachers to take woke surveys to help drive a left-wing “equity” agenda.
According to documents obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight, the surveys were created through the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness Research Partnership (WEERP), a woke initiative based at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Two state senators who have led the charge in pushing back against the further radicalization of the University of Wisconsin System say the liberal campaigns are not only divisive, they’re a waste of valuable resources and time.
“If all things were equal, kids in our K-12 public schools would know how to read, write and do math. That’s not happening right now,” said state Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton), chairman of the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges. English Language Arts proficiency was at an abysmal 27.5% according to the most recent state tracking of Wisconsin public schools. Math proficiency was at 27%.
Guiding its work
The Holmen School District in March sent educators a link to the surveys, noting the school system will use the data to guide its work at the district level “and more specifically at the building level” with the Holmen High School Strategic Plan (2021-2025.)
“You will see the data from both surveys referenced in the data section of the strategic plan. We want a 100% response rate,” the March 26 update to Holmen educators states.
Holmen officials did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment, or a request seeking the survey questions.
Holmen made national headlines after it was discovered that School Board President Cheryl Hancock had used a phony Facebook page to go after local conservative candidates and opponents of her woke agenda. “Avatar Annie” resigned in disgrace.
The Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness Research Partnership, which designs the surveys, bills itself as a research-practitioner partnership between the Office of Socially Responsible Evaluation in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
WEERP asks school administrators and teachers to share their experiences “promoting equity in their schools.” There really is no choice. Promoting “equity” in schools —under the “systemic racism” umbrella of critical race theory (CRT) and so-called anti-racism — is the only correct answer according to the left’s campaign to re-program Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded schools.
Holmen is far from the only district taking part in the surveys, which schools will use to push the racial equity agenda.
“The results suggest some schools see promoting equity as a critical need. However, most other schools are only somewhat focused on it. Schools engaging in equity has typically involved superficial efforts such as book groups. Few schools have engaged in the systemic changes necessary to promote equity,” the partnership states in a November report on equity promotion.
WEERP asks, “What is your school doing to promote racial equity and equity with other groups?” The report expresses concerns that only “one-quarter to one-third of educators reported adults in their school talk or think about race with each other ‘frequently.’
It is race-centric, racist education built on division and victimization, and taxpayers are paying for the lessons at all levels of student instruction.
“It’s not surprising that liberals have taken over education and in a systemic way they are pushing CRT and other socialist policies in the K-12 system,” said Mike Mikalsen, chief of staff for state Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater). “This is a coordinated, intertwined approach,” and the line of indoctrination goes from the teaching students “who get brainwashed” at the the universities through Wisconsin’s schools of education, Mikalsen added.
Nass is vice chair of of the Senate’s Universities and Technical Colleges committee, which held informational hearings last year on the impact of the “equity” or CRT agenda in Wisconsin’s higher education system. The panel’s report calls for reorganization of the university system. It also recommended a study on the impediment to free expression on UW System campuses.
Interestingly, while the system stands by equity and inclusion surveys, it has had little tolerance for a student survey on First Amendment rights.
The privately funded questionnaire titled “Student Perceptions of their First Amendment Free Speech Rights, Viewpoint Diversity, and Self-Censorship,” was supposed to go out earlier this spring. But then University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Jim Henderson complained about the content and origin of the survey and resigned his post. He didn’t like that the UW System didn’t back him in his opposition to the questionnaire, financed by donations from the Menard Center “from the family of Wisconsin billionaire John Menard,” as Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
The UW System’s failure to defend the survey led to its postponement until this fall.
“I find it hugely ironic that all of the chancellors and the Board of Regents erupted in outrage to try to get a survey on free speech shut down because they were so alarmed about what they might find,” Roth said.
The senator, who also is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said there will be a “day of reckoning” for the radical University of Wisconsin System if liberal Gov. Tony Evers loses his re-election bid in November.
Mikalsen noted opponents of the systemically racist equity movement at Wisconsin’s universities and K-12 schools are fighting back. But the left is “entrenched.”
“The question is whether there are enough conservatives in the Legislature and a governor who is going to deal with it,” the legislative aide said. “It’s going to have to be on the Legislature and the next governor to take up this issue head on through the order of the purse to say this is not acceptable.”